Third Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A


Craig M. McMahon, O.S.A.
Villanova University
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Is 8:23 – 9:3
Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 Cor 1:10-13, 17
Mt 4:12-23

The truth is that the men Jesus called were ordinary.

We know that four were fishermen and that there would be no reason to call them to live, work, and minister together apart from the purposes of the Kingdom of God. As humans, they were prone to all of the mistakes, faults, failures, and sin inherent in our species.

How very strange, then, that from a human perspective, the advancement of the Gospel depended upon these imperfect people.

And, it’s a strategy that God still employs today – ordinary people called forth to serve the Kingdom. The only requirement is faith. Always has been; always will be.

The notion of God’s call is central to the Bible’s understanding of human existence before God. The life of our call begins with Jesus – we don’t ask for it nor can it be manufactured. Jesus’s authority is the source of the call and often it comes unexpectedly and without warning.

The focal point of the call is to follow after Jesus – follow the person of Christ. Jesus then is leading and out front – disciples both then and now – follow behind, not knowing exactly what lies ahead.

Strangely enough, for this amazing mission: God wants ordinary broken people, not holier-than-thou ones. Kierkegaard once said that what Jesus wants is followers, not admirers. This idea puts the calling of the Disciplines in perspective – because what those twelve lacked in common interests – they more than made up for with faith and a willingness to be challenged and changed by that faith.

Andrew, Simon, James, and John, those men dared to hope for change, and those men dared to put their faith in Jesus Christ. They were some of the first people who followed the Holy Spirit into the unknown, hoping that the future would be different from the past.

As the world renowned Catholic bible scholar, Fr. Donald Senior C.P. said, both their call and ours is not about a specific function in the church, but more fundamentally it is a call to seek the face of God, and the fullness of life itself. This is the endpoint of the biblical quest: to see the face of God and live.

So they left their father in the boat, so they dropped their nets and followed, so they agreed to be transformed – their old life gone forever and their new life dedicated to Christ.

And, in doing so the past gives way to a future story not yet told, the old dies and new life begins – these ordinary people followed. He called them not because they were special, but because they were ordinary. In fact, I can think of nothing more comforting than the reality that God called and calls – people just like us – asking to us to repent and believe for the in-breaking of God’s Reign has begun.